[ExI] Rick Warren on religion

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Fri Dec 14 17:56:08 UTC 2018

On Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 10:44 PM "Stuart LaForge" <avant at sollegro.com>
> Keith Henson wrote:

> > On Sun, Dec 9, 2018 at 9:47 AM "Stuart LaForge" <avant at sollegro.com>
> > wrote:
> >> In so far as the brain is our fastest evolving human organ, having
> >> tripled in size in the last two million years, I would think that
> >> evo-psych would be one of our fastest evolving traits.
> >
> > I can't parse that.  Please try again.
> What I am saying is that in the last two million years our brain has
> physically changed in size by a factor of 3. Assuming that behavioral
> complexity is function of larger brains and more neurons, I would
> therefore expect that our evolutionary psychology should have changed at
> least as much in the same time period.

Humans don't possess "evolutionary psychology."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_psychology  EP can't be
possessed.  It is an approach to understanding which human
psychological traits are evolved adaptations.  We do have a long list
of psychological traits.  I suspect your intent here is to say those
human psychological traits changed about as much as the expansion of
the brain.

Could be I suppose.  There would be severe measurement problems even
if you had a time machine to go back and get the data.  Take
capture-bonding, a psychological trait where the evolutionary driver
is fairly obvious.  http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Capture-bonding
"The percentage of females in the lowland villages who have been
abducted is significantly higher: 17% compared to 11.7% in the
highland villages." (Napoleon Chagnon quoted at Sexual Polarization in
Warrior Cultures).

Translating into something that could be measured, your expectation
would be that the percentage of captives (almost all women) who
adapted to being captured would have gone up over the period where the
brain expanded.

> > I am not talking about religion, no matter how you want to define it.
> > I am talking about the human *capacity* to have religions.  It is so
> > widespread among human populations that, like capture-bonding, it is nearly
> > universal.
> How do you distinguish this capacity for religion from any other cultural
> phenomena that allows memes and social constructs to override genes? It is
> certainly more sophisticated in humans but it occurs across the spectrum
> of social animals.
> In wolves for example, typically only the dominant pair of alpha male and
> female breed.
> Why would the average (non-dominant) wolves in the pack allow this? Why
> would these average wolves cooperatively hunt, protect, and help feed pups
> that are unrelated to them effectively throwing their own genes under the
> bus?

> Sure one could argue that they are related so this is some kind of kin
> selection going on but this is typically true only of the females who tend
> to be siblings. The males are typically completely unrelated and randomly
> get adopted into packs.

Can you provide a URL for these statements?  It's been a while since I
read up on the subject.


> The upshot of the Nature article is that humans are about six times more
> likely than the average mammal to die by the actions of a member of our
> own species. Based upon paleontological and archaelogical evidence during
> the Stone Age about 3.5% of humans died by the hand of another human. This
> fluctuates throughout history, with a maximum during the middle ages where
> approximately 12% of humans died by another's hand.

Some places much higher https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Before_Civilization

> For comparison, in chimps about 4.5% die from attacks by another chimp
> making them, humans, and baboons the bloodiest primates. But surprisingly
> we are nowhere close to being the most murderous mammals.
> That distinction goes to meerkats which are social weasels that live in
> southern Africa with 20% of all meerkat deaths are attributable to other
> meerkats. Usually in dominance disputes with meerkats in the same colony
> or territorial wars with other meerkat colonies.

You might note that meerkats have a high reproductive rate and not
much predation.  The environment can only support so many of them so
they have to kill each other.  It's the same problem humans have.

> As a general rule, social mammals are more murderous than solitary mammals
> and territorial mammals are more murderous than nomadic mammals. The most
> murderous mammals of all are those which are both social and territorial.
> So warfare among our hunter-gatherer ancestors was rarer than I had
> assumed. It wasn't until we settled down and became territorial that
> warfare truly became a human preoccupation.
> >> Does the model account for the benefits of genetic out-breeding as a
> >> result of war?
> >
> > No.  Do you have a way to put numbers on this benefit?
> Unfortunately most of the hard numbers I can find are from recent wars:
> The book GIs and Fr?uleins, by Maria Hohn, documents 66,000 German
> children born to fathers who were soldiers of Allied forces in the period
> 1945?55:
> American parent: 36,334
> French parent: 10,188
> British parent: 8,397
> Soviet parent: 3,105
> Belgian parent: 1,767
> Other/unknown: 6,829

Those are not useful numbers.  You need data on how the children were
better in some genetically significant way as a result of outbreeding.
> >>> So you would expect genes to get this judgment for "a time for war"
> >>> correct, and genes that get the tribe into "attack mode" when needed
> >>> would be positively selected.
> >>>
> >>> The major religions where we know something of their historical
> >>> origins seem to have started as a set of xenophobic memes.
> Cultural identity may not be possible without some measure of xenophobia.
> There cannot be a "self" without an "other".

This is in conflict with outbreeding.  Very often the people a tribe
got their wives from where the same as the ones they fought.


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